Monday 24th October 2016                 Change text size:

Government seizes carbon capture opportunity

Photo: Martin

The Government has upped its bid to become world leaders in carbon capture and storage (CCS) with the launch of a new £1 billion competition that it hopes will push commercialisation of the technology and create up to 100,000 jobs.

Complementing the £20m CCS Innovation Programme launched in March, the CCS Commercialisation Programme invites coal and gas power stations to design working examples of the technology.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has set aside £1 billion worth of capital funding to finance the initial costs of implementation at a commercial scale, with extra money available through ‘contracts for difference’.

On top of this, DECC plans to invest £125m into research and development of the technology, encompassing the CCS Innovation Programme competition and the building of a new £13m CCS Research Centre in the UK.

Ed Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said, “What we are looking to achieve, in partnership with industry, is a new world-leading CCS industry, rather than just simply projects in isolation—an industry that can compete with other low-carbon sources to ensure security and diversity of our electricity supply, an industry that can make our energy intensive industries cleaner and an industry that can bring jobs and wealth to our shores.

The CCS industry could be worth £6.5bn a year to the UK economy by late next decade as we export UK expertise and products.”

The competition has been launched in the embers of a similar contest that fell apart last year after all nine entrants pulled out.

The biggest difference of this newly-updated version is the welcoming of applicants from gas power plants; the original project was only open to coal stations.

DECC’s announcement has been met with excitement by Stuart Haszeldine, professor of carbon capture and storage at the University of Edinburgh, who tells B&GT the announcement “puts the CCS industry back on track”.

He adds, “The Government has listened carefully to industry, business and researchers, and has significantly adapted the original aims of the previous competition.

It is clear that the UK will see several large projects competing for [Government] support, using diverse capture systems, and different storage destinations.”  

Haszeldine goes on to say that by grasping the opportunity, we “can develop CCS as a route to sustainable electricity for the UK, at a whole life-cycle cost comparable to, and probably lower than, rival low-carbon sources.”

Whilst the re-launching of the competition sparks positivity in the push towards a sustainable and low-carbon economy, questions will be raised over whether the Government has learnt its lesson from its past failure.

Whilst this £1 billion competition is a huge step forward in achieving the UK’s low-carbon targets, the fact remains that coal and gas are finite resources. Therefore, the wise decision in the long term is to invest in and support renewable technologies at a much more advanced level.

We outlined the potential of renewable energy in our recent in-depth report, The Rise of Renewable Energy. It may give you the motivation to make a difference, in which case, we suggest you get in contact with Good Energy, the UK’s only 100% renewable electricity supplier.

Further reading:

DECC launches £20m carbon capture competition

First UK carbon capture project in the pipeline

Government reassures that funding is there for carbon capture projects

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